Posts tagged HIV among homosexuals

HIV Prevention in Adolescents Faces Legal Barriers

Laws vary from state to state regarding parental consent when it comes to medical treatment for adolescents. This in itself is not a bad thing as parents have defined rights when it comes to their children’s health. However, when it comes to HIV prevention and research, these laws could pose a public health issue. For some regions, lines are blurred between what constitutes treatment or therapy, and prevention (particularly for HIV and other STDs), and what types of rights adolescents have when it comes to these matters.

Studies are conclusive when it comes to the number of young adults contracting HIV. The facts are:

  • The second largest at-risk population are individuals aged 13 to 24.
  • Of the new infections reported in the United States, researchers found 23% are in this age group.
  • Out of that number, over 70% are young gay and bisexual men.
  • This high-risk group would greatly benefit from certain preventative measures, such as safer sex practices, and using antiretroviral therapies for those who are not HIV-positive.

This latter method has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Not only would these measures aid young persons who are at the highest risk of transmitting and contracting the virus, but it could also help stem the growing tide of HIV outbreaks.

What Can Aid Prevention in Adolescents?

The ethical side is clear, and poses no threat. The legalities are what stand in the way. Each state has different laws governing parental consent. Most of these hinge on treatment, not necessarily prevention. It would essentially clear the roadblock if lawmakers and health officials collaborated, amending certain laws to allow for prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in minors without parental consent.

Another approach is to create clear legal boundaries between treatment and prevention. This could help in areas where laws are not clear-cut, yet tie the hands of healthcare workers as far as aiding the younger population in preventative care. Lastly, having a consistent law code in this regard would also help assure that this particular type of care could be given and received anywhere within the US.

Bisexual Men and HIV Risks

It has been assumed for a while now that bisexual men pose a large threat to their female partners in the transmission of HIV. The claim was that bisexual men could bridge the gender gap by having relations with men and then transmitting the virus to female partners. While the transmitting of HIV among bisexuals does exist, investigation as to whether they pose a greater threat was the object of a recent study.

In the U.S. there is about an estimated one million bisexual men. Of these, over 100,000 have HIV. This number measures up to the CDC’s estimates. The likelihood of passing on the infection to their partners is not far off from that of other groups. The results of the study then show that the claims previously mentioned have been slightly exaggerated: While it is possible for this group to transmit HIV to their partners, there does not seem to be any greater risk in this group than in homosexual men or with female partners. Risk

The research that has been done thus far clearly shows, however, that protected sex yields the best outcome and greatly reduces the transmission of viral infection. In this matter, bisexual men fared better, as safer practices mean less transmission. Homosexual men show a tendency to be more lax in this regard. Technically, with this in mind, it puts the bisexual man in a better statistical arena.

Still, in light of this research, physicians and experts alike stress the importance of education and safe sex practices. These are essential to helping curb the spread of HIV. Risk factors due to lifestyle should not be ignored just because numbers were not as high as some may have thought. In this case, researchers are looking to further investigate into this group of bisexual men so as to get a clearer picture of how to reduce transmission.

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